Peter Pietersen, 36, was found guilty earlier this week of what the court described as the “execution” style murder of Randall Mabie in Kleinskool in March last year.
Pietersen was also accused of shooting at Constable Xolani Nobatana who was on the scene at the time, however he was acquitted on a charge of attempted murder.
Nobatana and another police officer were patrolling the area at the time and heard gunshots. When they went to investigate they saw Pietersen running with a firearm in his hand.
It is unknown why the shooting incident occurred or what preceded it. During the trial the state was unable to prove a motive for the murder.
“The court agrees that a motive was not established. We know the accused came to be in the presence of the deceased in Friendship street on the night in question. He had in his possession a fully loaded semi-automatic firearm,” said Judge Glenn Goosen in passing down sentence.
Pietersen fired three shots at Mabie’s head, two of which were at close range.
“This clearly indicates direct intention to kill,” said Goosen.
Although Pietersen denied being a gang member, he did admit to associating with gangsters in the area. Goosen said that although it was not possible to conclude if the killing was in fact gang related, whether it was or was not the offence in itself was “heinous and callous in nature”.
Goosen said the fact the killing took place during daylight and there were community members in close proximity, in his view pointed towards a measure of planning in the shooting incident.
“It left no room other than that the deceased would die,” he said.
Goosen added that communities were living in fear on a daily basis with gang activities rife in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth.
“Shootings and killings are rife, not only in Kleinskool but also other areas of the so called northern areas. Gang activities are rife, these are notorious facts in that communities live in fear. Witnesses are some times too scared to come forward in many instances. In this instance the killer was apprehended because the police were in close proximity, if that had not been so, the accused may have never been apprehended and brought to justice.”
“The courts are inundated with cases like this with allegations of inter gang activity, one cannot turn a blind eye.”
On a count of murder Pietersen was jailed for life, for the possession of an unlicensed firearm, he received 15 years imprisonment and 18 months for the unlawful possession of ammunition.